DVD Review

Tim Buckley, My Fleeting House (MVD Visual)

More people know about the late Jeff Buckley than they do about his even-later father, Tim (1947-1975). As talented as Jeff was, his pop existed on a whole other plane of amazingness. Tim's son has more than 92,500 MySpace friends; Tim doesn't even have an official page. Further, his best album, 1970's Starsailor, is out of print. The world is dreadfully unjust.

My Fleeting House should partially redress this shameful situation. The DVD includes 14 television performances from most of Buckley the elder's career (1967-1974) and features insightful commentary from former band mates Larry Beckett and Lee Underwood as well as Dream Brother biographer David Browne. ("It was like sitting around with Caruso. All activity had to cease [when Buckley sang]," Beckett observes.)

Blessed with impressive bone structure and a voice of Olympian athleticism and grace, Buckley was a riveting performer. He could've parlayed his looks and songwriting gifts into superstardom had he followed a less idiosyncratic trajectory, but Buckley chose a Miles Davis-like path of constantly challenging himself and changing direction from album to album. While his manager may have suffered ulcers, posterity benefited from Buckley's restless creativity.

Over his career, Buckley imbued his quicksilver inventiveness into folk-rock (as earnest protest singer and baroque troubadour), flowery psychedelia, libidinous R&B and funk, mellow soul/blues, and oceanic free jazz. My Fleeting House respectfully and acutely covers each phase, plus it has one of the oddest performances ever to appear on network TV: Buckley's restrained, stripped-down version of "Song to the Siren" (merely the most beautiful composition ever), which capped popular series The Monkees' final episode in 1968. Buckley unceremoniously walks into view with an acoustic, sits before a wrecked car and sings the most poignant love poetry over a gorgeous, diaphanous melody, and he never acknowledges the audience. Fade out. Stunning.

Equally shattering is the 1970 exorcism titled "Come Here Woman," which climaxes with a demonic free-jazz flourish. From flamboyant bombast to trembling introspection, Buckley ran the gamut of emotions and styles with a rare, soulful panache. My Fleeting House invaluably documents his unique talents.

 
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